Tuesday 8 December 2015
The Apprentice Alumnus Interview
Alumnus and BBC Apprentice contestant Richard Woods has won eight out of nine tasks to date and is over the moon with his progress. Last week was full of Apprentice firsts, including one candidate firing himself, even when he was on the winning team, and Team Connexus bringing in the most money to the boardroom to date.
We speak to Richard to get his reaction from last week’s dramatic show; ask him why he put himself forward as Project Manager (PM), and try and find out why tomorrow’s (9 December 2015) episode will be the cringiest yet.
Last week’s episode definitely delivered in terms of drama. What did you make of it all?
Apart from the triple firing episode, this has got to be the most dramatic ending to an episode to date. You had Scott just sitting there after we’d won this amazing task and had brought in more money than anyone had ever done on The Apprentice. He was just rooted to the chair; inside I was saying, “Scott, come on! Get up! Don’t do it Scott!” The chairs are on wheels and I was tempted to physically wheel him out of the room.
On a personal level, I was happy to see another two strong candidates leave the process. Selina and Scott were formidable opponents. I take my hat off to Scott though, if it’s not for you get out.
You have now won eight out of nine tasks. How does it feel?
Obviously I am rather delighted with it! I’m almost worried though because Lord Sugar has never seen me in a final three boardroom situation. He has never seen me sing for my supper or show my fight and grit up to this point. I just keep on winning. There is a worry about what he will think of me if I have to fight for my place. I am really happy and have momentum behind me but there is that little worry as to if Lord Sugar actually likes me. He hasn’t had the opportunity to tell me otherwise!
Were you sad to see Selina leave?
Everybody hates Selina but I actually got on well with her. There is something about her that puts people’s backs up. The house was divided between Selina, Charliene and Joseph. I didn’t really get on with Charliene or Joseph so I tended to hang out with Selina.
It was great to see you and Varna working so well together. Have you forgiven her for ’cakegate’?
Don’t touch my cake! It was more Varna having an off week in the previous week than me being narky. You’ve got a kitchen to run and children’s party to set up, and all the food, and the pressure was on so it wasn’t good timing on her part to have an off week. If we were going to argue about not doing anything, we weren’t going to get anything done.
This week, however, was a real insight into Varna’s ability to sell. She was highly professional, smooth and she’s got that American twang. Americans are natural closers. Her parents are architects so she could really talk around the problems we had about not having a floor plan. She built rapport well with our clients too. I was very impressed with Varna and we worked well as a team.
This task sounded down your street in terms of selling high-end properties and it was great to see you put yourself in your favourite position – PM! How did you lead Team Connexus to a victory?
I put myself forward as project manager because I had experience as an estate agent during my student days when I worked weekends at Austin and Wyatt on London Road. That’s all the experience I had to go on, but I knew I could sell high-value products and that I could speak to people on that level.
You have to remember it was only the second task since I had moved over to Team Connexus. I was very conscious of Joseph and Charliene, who had been really winding me up while I was on Team Versatile. I wanted to prove that it was me moving that was the reason Team Versatile hadn’t won since I’d left. The only way I could do that was by putting myself forward as PM.
It has been great having you down for our open days recently to talk to prospective students about your Solent experience. Have you enjoyed returning to uni?
It’s been amazing coming back to visit, genuinely amazing. Seeing some of my old lecturers was really great. You know the people who really influenced you during your time at uni, so to speak with their prospective students was fantastic. It was great working with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Baldwin – we made a good tag team with the talks. Walking around and seeing all the new developments and visiting the new Spark building was a real eye-opener. To see this investment first hand going into the place I called home and the place I represented during my days on the rugby team was touching. It has inspired me to give as much time as I can to help Solent.
We hear you launched your book Digital Trailblazerlast week! How did it go?
The book launch went amazingly well. We had Solomon and Lauren from last year’s Apprentice join us and also had a number of this year’s candidates coming to support me. I am celebrating this week as well as I am officially an ‘Amazon best seller’!
This week the teams are selling healthy snacks. Does it have a healthy outcome for you?
After the handyman task where Mergim got his finger stuck in the wall, this is probably the cringiest episode to date… with a really surprising ending as well. That’s all I can give you, but let’s just say it has a very slippery ending for someone.
Tune in to The Apprentice, 9pm, BBC One, Wednesday 9 December to see how Richard gets on.
Richard has a 2:1 BA (Hons) Business and Entrepreneurship from Solent (graduating in 2005), and has gone on to start four successful businesses, including digital marketing agency Yomp.